Because of the pandemic, the Washington state Supreme Court waived the bar exam for new lawyers who were supposed to take it this past July or in September. But new teachers still have to take an exam to get their teaching certificate, and now they’re asking the governor to eliminate that requirement.
The assessment is called the edTPA, and only a minority of states require that new teachers pass it. The test is a multistep process that includes submitting video clips of teaching and interacting with students in the classroom. But the school closures due to the pandemic last spring made it impossible for many teaching candidates to finish.
Naomi Maxwell is about to complete a teacher preparation program at the University of Washington Tacoma and she’s one of the people who was not able to finish her edTPA because of the school shutdown. The state came up with a workaround and will issue new teachers emergency certificates. But Maxwell said once she finds a job, she’ll still have to take this assessment and balance that with teaching. That’s a tall order that she said will force her to take some of her attention away from her students at a time when they’re most at need because of the shift to remote learning.
“I really wouldn’t say that this is a matter of being faint-hearted,” she said. “We’re really just being asked to spend our time and energy elsewhere in a way that doesn’t offer any tangible benefits to those students.”
Maxwell said there are requirements for new teachers to pass multiple other assessments, and once they’ve completed their teacher preparation programs, they’re well qualified to lead their own classrooms.
Additionally, some new teachers are concerned that receiving emergency certificates instead of full residency certificates, which they can only obtain once they’ve passed the edTPA, hurts them in the job market.
Arthur Perkins-Cline also is completing a teacher preparation program at UW Tacoma. He’s looking for a position right now.
“This has been an incredible challenge just trying to find work and complete the program and think about everything that’s going to be coming up,” he said. Once he finds a job, “trying to complete the edTPA is going to take away from that time that I need to work with my students.”
So Perkins-Cline, Maxwell and other new teachers are urging Gov. Inslee to drop the edTPA requirement. A spokesperson for the governor said he can only waive the requirement for a month because it’s in statute, and eliminating it would be something for the Legislature to address.